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Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Pocatello 50K+ (37 mi) Race Report

I'm finally back in and settled after this last weekend in Pocatello, ID.  After reports of potentially nasty weather, we lucked out with a fairly nice day (for running at least) in the high 40's with no real precip to speak of.  The course was in decent condition considering the high levels of snowpack that the area has had and this made for a decent amount of trudging and sliding, but this only added to the challenge and fun of the whole event, which is a truly great mountain race (I'd love to come back when the circumstances are right for a trip up Scout Mt. which was not included in the course this year because of too much snow).  Here is a short run down of how the day went:

My Dad and I at the 50K start (City Creek aid station).  He tore it up out there...50 years old, never ran in his life before 2009 and decided to throw it all out there for 37 miles...and he only came in 23 minutes behind me, crazy!

We started out at 8:30 am at the City Creek aid station (for the 50 milers).  I thought we might see a few 50 milers run by before we started and I was right.  Dakota Jones came flying in about 5 mins before we were set to take of.  After Dakota left we got ready to go and I stepped aside, after a suggestion from Yassine the night before, to take a moment to take it all in and be thankful for the opportunity to race that day.  He said that he likes to take a moment and have gratitude for being able to be out there and toe the line on that day in addition to all the support that we get from our family and friends and to take that gratitude with him the rest of the day.  It was really a profound suggestion and made a huge difference for me in putting things all in perspective.  Yes, this was a race, but really it was so much more than that after all the miles ran in training, the times Alyssa takes care of the kids so I can get in those longer weekend runs, and even the mountain itself and how it speaks to, refines, and captivates me all gave me a continued sense of gratitude for the health and ability to partake in something like this.  Thanks for the wise words Yassine!

I choose to run the race in my Inov-8 F-Lite 230s and they performed flawlessly.  I also took a handheld water bottle (mix match camelback holder and random bottle) and an Inov-8 Race Elite 2 hip pack, which I really like as it is big enough to put food gloves and a packable coat in, but not really noticeable when running.  I started out probably a little farther back than I should have, but had been burned by running out too quickly at the North Face 50K in SF 6 months ago so I didn't want to go out too fast this time.  This was more of a problem at Pocatello, because the trail went down to narrow single track and a moderate climbing grade almost immediately and I spent nearly the first 20 mins just trying get around people.  By about the 4 mile mark, I hit a section they called the Barkley section that looked like this:

This is what the start of it looked like...yes the route when right up the middle of this creek.
The upper sections were more like this...lots of side-hilling over snow to be had in the upper parts of this first climb.
By the time I hit this section, although I didn't know it at the time, I had probably worked my way into the top 10 and was feeling good...I wish the climbing would have kept going because after I crested the top of this 5 mile climb w/2,500 ft gain in 1:03 I hung fine for the next mile or so on the flat ridge, but as the elevation started to drop off, I found myself not able to hold the downhill pace of the front runners.  I was still going at a solid, for me, 7:45-8:00/mi pace but this was not enough to hang on to the group.  The next section was 10+ mi of downhill with only one small 600 ft climb in the middle and 2,500 ft of descent.  I covered the section fairly well with 9:00/mi pace for those 10 mi, but it was not enough to catch any of those in front...this is something I'm going to work on soon.

Next, I hit Mink Creek aid station and had to spend a fair amount of time switching out some gear and food.  I only took the food I need for the first 16 mi from the start as I knew I had a drop bag at mile 16, but not sure if this paid off in the long run as it took longer than I'd like to see (4 min.) to switch out my wrappers of Clif shot gel and blocks and re load my hip pack and hand bottle pocket with the the food I needed for the rest of the race.  I took my shirt off at this point as I was getting a little warm and didn't need to put in back on till about 45 min before the finish.

After leaving Mink Creek I hit the second large climb and felt decent, but not quite the pop in the legs as the first climb...this is expected :) at this point.  After reaching some higher altitudes 6,300 ft+ the snow started to cover sections of the trail.  The elevation leveled off at around 7,000 ft for an out and back to the Scout Mtn aid station that was around 1 mi each way and mostly snow.  This was a good spot to see some of the other runners.  I saw my Mom (Susan, who was running the 19.5 mile race (actually 21 something) and gave her a high five.  She was looking great despite being nervous about her ability to run the course (which I never doubted) and ended up finishing a respectable 9th place in here first trail race at 48 years old...very well done Mom!  I reach the aid station and the guys there had it rockin'. I had heard that Roch Horton was running the aid station and apparently Karl Meltzer was there too although I never saw him...I did see the Red Bull on the table (should have made the connection :) ) and grabbed a can on the way out to see if I could get any rejuvenation from the sugar and caffeine, plus hydrate a little extra on the descent.  I was worried about being a little dehydrated and low on electrolytes, but never ended up getting any cramps or anything.  I worked my way up through the snow covered out and back heading out and saw my Dad (Loren) heading in and gave him encouragement to keep pushing strong.  He was looking good, but it was only mile 21 and I expected him to be strong at this point...the real test for, which he passed convincingly, would be after the marathon mark, which was his personal best distance to date (North Face trail marathon in December 2010).

The next section was a long brutal downhill, did I mention I've got to work on downhills :)!  It was 6 miles long with 2,000 ft of descent.  I covered it at a passable pace, mid 9's after I got through the snow that was covering the first 2-3 miles of the descent.  This, however, killed my over all performance I believe.  I felt fatigued from the downhill, yet I was not covering at a fast enough pace to make it benefit me.  Definitely a problem.  By the time I hit Mink Creek aid station for the second time at mile 29, I was ready for some uphill.  I hit the porta potty for a quick stop, grabbed some chips and pb&j for some salt and different tasting food.  I'd been hitting Clif Shot gels and Bloks most of the race, but was getting a little tired of eating them at the moment.  All in all, I think I did pretty good on food with an estimated 1,700 cal put in during the race and never felt like I was going to bonk.

The climb out of Mink Creek started pretty gradual and I was able to hit it at a pretty good pace for this late in the race (11-12 min/mi), however, after 2 miles when it turned onto the Corral Creek loop that it would end on, things got steeper and I started to come apart a little.  I tried to run as much as I could of this section, but was reduced to a hike for probably 30-40% of it.  It crested out around 6,400 ft and then had a 2 mile section of flattish running on a fire road before turning on to the Corral Creek trail for a quick, and somewhat tricky for this point in the race, 1,000 ft descent over the next two miles.  I hit the road which I knew meant just a little over a mile to go.  After running by myself since Mink Creek, I was a little surprised to have someone come up on me just as I was taking to the road.  I looked back to see that it was one of the ladies (found out later her name was Emily Judd and she got second place at the Bighorn 100 last year!) from my race (identifiable by the bib color) and she looked stronger than I felt.  She right away passed me and I thought I would have to let her go at that point.  However, after getting the legs turning over for a minute or two, they revived a little and I was able to close the gap back to her.  We were cruising on a slight downhill at around an 8:00 mile at this point and I decided to see if I had anything left in the legs.  I pushed it a little harder and went passed her and proceeded to open a gap of about 100-200 ft or so.  We zoomed by Mink Creek aid on the way to the finish and I knew there was around .25 miles left.  This is when I noticed her closing the gap again and I though, you've got to be kidding me...37 miles of running most of the race by myself and it's gonna be a sprint at the line.  I backed off just a little to make sure I saved a bit for the last 100 meters or so...after we turned into the campground she was probably only 50 ft behind me and I turned it on at this point reaching into the low 6's to close it out hard and retain 12th place overall at 7:15:00 with Emily finishing just 2 seconds behind me.  I've never met Emily before, but thanks for pushing me and congrats on a solid race!

Saw my Mom, who had already finished.  I got changed and grabbed a little food and then proceeded to wait for my Dad to come in.  I told my Mom that he was probably going to be a while as I felt like I was breaking down a little at the end and that Dad, who hadn't done as much training or other ultra's like I had, must be hurting more than me.  I was proven wrong and he showed up only 23 minutes after me for a solid 17th place and 7:38:17.  At 50 years old and just starting running less than 2 years ago, this is an amazing feat...very well done Dad!  He's gonna keep me honest with my training because if I fall apart and we are in the same race...he will inevitably eat me up in the final miles with his exceptional stamina and I can't let my old man beat me right ;).  Official results here.

Well, Pocatello was a great experience and really gives me confidence for running 50 miles at White River in 2 months.  I've already run twice since Pocatello and am amazed at how quickly the well trained body recovers.  I did a short 4.5 mi run last night with 450 ft of gain going easy and felt pretty good most of the way.  I wouldn't be surprised if almost all the soreness is gone in a day or so.  We can do so much more than we often mentally limit ourselves to.  If you want to do something, go for it!  You'll be surprised with where you can go.

1 comment:

Yassine said...

Awesome report David...Congrats to you (and your family! that's great!)...That is a solid performance on a tough course...way to tough it out...the experience will surely help you out down the road. Talk soon!